In the interest of brevity, we kept an item in Monday's Inquirer about Councilman Bill Green, State Sen. Anthony Williams and the future of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Department short on the back and forth, but there's a lot more going on that you should not miss.
First of all, it seems that Green is getting a lot more grief from black politicians over a bill to eliminate the Sheriff's Office than Councilman Frank DiCicco, the main sponsor of the bill. Green was the only co-sponsor.
"No one has said a word to me," DiCicco shrugged in the 3rd floor hallway Tuesday. Insiders suggest DiCicco is more interested in sticking his thumb in the eye of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and the Democratic City Committee than he is in reforming the Sheriff's Office. DiCicco's aide, Nick Schmanek, lost a bid to become leader of the 2nd Ward in South Philly in May, with some help from the party establishment.
Is DiCicco out for payback?
"It's all about good government," he deadpanned.
But to some factions of city's African-American political community, an assault on the Sheriff's Office, regarded as a bastion of black political power, is an attack on them.
The Clerk of Quarter Sessions, led by African-American ward leader Vivian Miller, was recently eliminated as an elected office, and Williams and others have questioned why Green would target the Sheriff's Office without questioning the remaining row offices -- the Register of Wills and City Commissioners, controlled by mostly white politicians. It should be noted however, that the Sheriff's Office has been raked over the coals in City Controller's audits going back at least 20 years, more so than those other offices.
And though Williams in Monday's column singled out Councilman Green as persona non grata, it was other black politicians -- plus the Fraternal Order of Police and Green's own allies -- who had already convinced Green that targeting the Sheriff's Office is a very risky political move.
Green's printed comments on Monday were brief, but he actually had quite a bit to say about Williams.
"I'm surprised that Senator Williams would make such a comment without ever having spoken to me about these issues. Especially given my record of preventing regressive taxes [trash fee, soda tax], keeping libraries open and other progressive measures," Green said. "I do not believe my colleagues, the people who work with me day to day and understand what I am fighting for and against, share the Senator's point of view."
Just who shares Williams' point of view will be important come May, when Green seeks reelection. Whether Williams' influence, coupled with whatever simmering opposition there is for Green as a result of the Sheriff's issue, is enough to hurt Green, will be question that the Councilman will want to know by then.
In the meantime, it appears that Williams is willing to put his clout behind the right candidate. "It's probably going to be a crowded field," he said nonchalantly over coffee recently. "And I'm open to options."
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